The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has been hit by massive resignations mainly from their qualified engineers with most relocating to outside the country to seek greener pastures.
The development has led the local authority to reintroduce a 20 percent Critical Shortage Areas Allowance to all its engineers so as to convince them to stay under their employ. The allowance had been scrapped in 2016.
According to a council confidential report, the city’s Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Simela Dube noted that there was an urgent need to address the issue of brain drain as this was grossly affecting the technical ability of the local authority.
“I had a meeting with my technical staff concerning conditions of service, vis-à-vis allowances which among them is the Critical Shortage Areas Allowance which was removed from all staff receiving it. My analysis of the positions points to the issue that they are critical.
“There is an urgent need to retain the current technical staff that is available now. The CSAA is one of the issues that is demoralising the technical staff. There is a need to arrest brain drain as most of the engineers have left council employ,” said Eng Dube in presenting the matter.
According to the report, the allowance will be paid monthly at a rate of 20 percent of the basic salary and will only be paid to council engineers.
“This allowance would be paid every month as it was previously done before the freeze. A critical scheme was that with posts that could not be easily filled. The level of market response to the advertisement determined the level of shortages of the skills.
“With the level of remuneration, council adverts might not attract competent personnel. Most engineers now preferred to look for jobs outside the country and even those who graduated every year from universities preferred to seek employment overseas.
“The condition of this allowance was that as soon as the market had the skills, the allowance would be revoked. There was a need to motivate those few that were remaining,” reads the report.
The Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, is reported to have noted that engineers were crucial to the running of the city hence the local authority could not afford any further loss.
“He (Mr Dube) referred to the water crisis that had recently affected the city. They (engineers) were very crucial in terms of efficient service delivery. In other departments vacant posts would easily be filled because the skills were abundant in the market with some graduates remaining unemployed,” reads the report.
A couple of years ago local authorities were given the green light to employ critical staff so as to boost service delivery in the Local Government sector.
The review, however, did not encompass the entirety of council vacant positions but only for critical positions that affect directly service provision, with councils required to inform the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing before making the appointments to determine the criticality of the positions.
This followed reports that most local authorities were operating with unqualified heads of departments with most of them having gone for over five years without substantive HODs while others have had to employ under-qualified personnel to fill in strategic positions.